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Fried Green Tomatoes(SE)/A,A-

Universal/1991/137m/ANA 1.85

      A deep slice into the pie of life that marries the past and present with exquisite eloquence, Fried Green Tomatoes serves up huge helping of good messages to take home from any work of art.
     Set in the contemporary suburban Alabama and through flashbacks to a small Alabama town around the now defunct Whistle Stop Cafe some sixty years earlier during the years of the depression, the intertwining of the two stories is executed with intelligent balance. From a novel by Fannie Flagg, this is one of the strongest stories about women that I recall. A tomboy, Idgie Threadgoode finds her life turned around when tragedy strikes her family. Idgie turns so far inward that she practically lives in the woods near her home, but Ruth, an older, more refined young woman touches Idgie and they make a bond that will last a lifetime.
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Mary Stuart Masterson in a honey of a perfromance©Universal

   We learn about the Whistle Stop Café as Ninny Threadgoode relates her memories to Evelyn when the later accompanies her husband on visits to her mother-in-law at a local nursing home. Ninny's stories of the past help Evelyn find a new spirit for her own life, echoing the tale told by Idgie of a simpler time many years before. The visits with Ninny become a important part of Evelyn's life .
     The period story dominates Fried Green Tomatoes with its wonderful detail the colorful characters that inhabit the world around the Whistle Stop Café. The focus is drama in this section of the film, while the bright and unending cheeriness of the contemporary section provides a great deal more comedy.
     The screen relationships of the actresses are truly remarkable. Mary Stuart Masterson is wonderful as Idgie. Her snappy persona gives Idgie enough spirit for four or five central screen women. Mary-Louise Parker imbues Ruth with a rare warmth and practicality that compliments the marvelous energy of Masterson. Jessica Tandy brings the wisdom of her years as Ninny Threadgoode. Tandy's delivers her lines with a wonderful sense of humor. Evelyn, played by Kathy Bates, is a hungry audience and together these pairs of women make marvelous cornerstones for this grand film.
     Jon Avnet's direction is crisp and dedicated to bringing the story to the forefront. The filming is bright and illuminating. Avnet builds a rare spirit to this film and it's obvious from the performances he extracts from all his actors.
     Fried Green Tomatoes is shot with the same vitality that director Avnet has imbued the story. Rich colors evoke the warmth of friendship. Both periods are shot with a similar feel, laying emotions on the table as casually as dressing Southern Sunday dinner table. Geoffrey Simpson's camera records everything with great beauty. The camera moves elegantly and unobtrusively.
     This is a beautiful DVD. The immediacy of the story is communicated in sharp images and handsome colors. The anamorphic transfer spreads out before its viewers a veritable cornucopia of life insights. Color depth is outstanding. Night scenes have a theatrical pop and contrast range consistently dynamic. The haunting score of Thomas Newman is proudly showcased by the Dolby Digital 2-channel recording.
     The documentary made for the special edition contains more interview time with the people you care about than typical features of this kind. Avnet appropriately dominates screen time, but there’s a generous helping of Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary Louise Parker, as well commentary from Jessica Tandy(likely made during the shoot)and Kathy Bates. The ladies focus mostly on their characters and their part of the film. There are many insights about the filmmaking process and a fascinating tour with Avnet of the set which became a tourist attraction in Georgia. If the excellent documentary isn't enough, Avnet provides a running commentary on a second audio track.